When visitors get off cruise ships at the Port of Montevideo, one of the first places they visit is the Mercado Del Puerto, a collection of steakhouses, gift shops, and art galleries under one big tin roof.

Uruguay is famous for wine and steaks and inside the Mercado you have multiple choices in a meat lover’s paradise. Early in the morning, around nine, chefs load firewood into their ovens and by lunch the smell of cooking meat says to ” come on in.”

This afternoon chefs are grilling, a girl markets wine from Uruguay to tourists, waiters scribble orders on small pieces of paper. Talk fills the place with large and small groups enjoying the Mercado’s savory ambiance.

From the Mercado a visitor can fan out into commercial and residential side streets and find boutiques, art galleries, neighborhood restaurants and  local stores that depend on residents more than tourists. This port area, neglected, is slowly being reclaimed by a new generation of entrepreneurs. 

Later in the day, I too enjoy an enormous steak with fries and a beer, for dinner. Sailors at the next table talk loud in German and drink prodigious amounts of beer with their brauts and love their own conversation.. 

Food, eating, and drinking are some of man’s fondest activities.

Uruguay steaks don:t have to apologize to anyone and the Mercado is highly recommended as a good place to meet them in person.

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